A large yellowish cloud of what appeared to be smoke erupted from North Island’s Naval Base Coronado at about 9:30 a.m. this morning.

Base spokesman Steve Fiebing said the plume was the result of a Soviet-made Antonov 124, which took off from one of the base’s shorter and less regularly used runways.

“These things are older aircraft with older engines and they just billow out smoke when they take off,” Fiebing said.

A chartered government flight, the plane was ferrying troops and cargo to the Persian Gulf, Fiebing said.

Fiebing called back later to say that much of what was in the air was just dirt and sand from the end of the runway, not smoke.

“Essentially the jet, when it took off, kicked up a lot of debris,” he said.

DANIEL STRUMPF

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